Will Ubuntu Phone just be an OS, or will it be a totally new phone?
I had the opportunity to look at the Ubuntu Phone OS first-hand at CES and it looks really nice. It’s being promoted as an OS rather than a device. Most of the demo phones being used to show off Ubuntu Phone are Galaxy Nexus devices, which ship with Android and have Ubuntu Phone installed as a replacement.
Canonical hopes to make deals with OEMs to have Ubuntu Phone installed on new handsets by 2014. That gives the organization a year to develop the software and establish those relationships with manufacturers that will help make bringing Ubuntu Phone to multiple platforms possible.
In short, Ubuntu Phone is an OS much like Android and not a single device. At least, that’s what we’re hearing right now. Canonical is dedicated to creating software that works with as many hardware profiles as possible in a free and open fashion. Ubuntu Phone will likely not be restricted to a single device, even in the unlikely case that only one OEM decides to adopt it.
Ubuntu Phone OS shows a lot of promise. Being able to use your dual or quad-core mobile device as a full desktop is an interesting proposition. If anything, it brings more choice to the market, and choice is always a good thing.
Microsoft has been taking steps in this direction lately with the development of Windows and Windows Phone. These operating environments are increasingly similar with each new version, and it stands to reason that the next logical step would be to have one operating environment exist across all devices.
Smartphones today have processing power that dwarfs that of desktop PCs from not long ago. With quad-core processors becoming commonplace and increasingly energy-efficient designs being introduced each year, it’s only a matter of time before the differences between today’s most powerful laptops and smartphones are nearly undetectable.
Look for more information about Ubuntu Phone to come to light after Canonical releases its early builds to the world. Undoubtedly, many dedicated users of Ubuntu will be eager to find out how it works on their devices. If anything, the incredibly robust app engine Ubuntu brings to the table will be a draw to existing mobile and desktop developers hoping to bring their apps to the new platform. Ubuntu Phone OS shares a core with desktop Ubuntu, and that will be a factor in developer adoption.
What Canonical doesn’t have that Google and Apple came to the mobile world with is an existing relationship with content creators. Deals made between Google, Apple, and the movie/record industry helped to create huge amounts of available content for Android and iOS. The stores alone are filled with the latest music, TV shows, movies, and apps for which you’re searching. Time will tell whether Canonical can develop those relationships in time to meet its self-imposed target launch estimates.
Ubuntu Phone will definitely be a competitor with Android. The additional desktop functionality could make it a major influence on Windows Phone, Android, and iOS in the coming years.